Arabic Literature Tour

Shahad Al Rawi & translator Luke Leafgren at Amherst College in 2019.

In fall 2019, the Roth Endowment collaborated with the UK’s Booker Prize Foundation to co-sponsor a program that embodies how translation puts international and cross-cultural exchange into action: the US tour of  a prize-winning Arabic-language author and his/er translator. The result was so successful that our board has decided to co-sponsor the program on a regular basis.

Shahad Al Rawi, the Iraqi author of The Baghdad Clock, and her translator, Luke Leafgren, toured colleges and universities in the northeastern U.S. Here they are pictured at Amherst College, where they read from the novel in both Arabic and English and discussed their experiences with writing and translation.

The Baghdad Clock won the Edinburgh First Book Award and was shortlisted for the International Prize for Arabic Fiction. The story begins in 1991: Two young girls meet and become best friends in a Baghdad bomb shelter, where they have taken refuge from Allied aerial attacks. They share their hopes and dreams, interwoven with fantasy and illusion. A stranger arrives from the mysterious future of the city bearing prophecies, causing families to flee the city en masse, leaving it empty. When a third girl joins them, the friends begin to write a secret history of their neighborhood to save it from oblivion.

Fulbright Legacy Lectures, 2019

The ninth annual Fulbright Legacy Lectures were given by David Miliband, President and CEO of the International Rescue Committee. He spoke at the University of Edinburgh, King’s College London and Pembroke College, University of Oxford, from June 19-21, 2019.

In his lecture titled “The New Arrogance of Power: Global Politics in an Age of Impunity,” Mr. Miliband examined the shift today in international relations away from checks and balances on the use of power, and towards an age of impunity. His explanation of how the rules-based international order forged after World War II is being undermined serves as an urgent call to preserve the rule of law and protect the most vulnerable. A video of the lecture delivered at Pembroke College, University of Oxford, is available on their website.

Helen Reidy

Gill Jacot-Guillarmod Award, 2019 

As Cultural Affairs Specialist at the U.S. Consulate General in Australia over the past 27 years, Helen has inspired hundreds of Australian students to study abroad in the United States by creating specialized outreach programs for EducationUSA and increasing media coverage to make opportunities more visible. Her unwavering dedication to educating students about study in the United States led to the U.S. becoming the first-choice destination for study abroad for Australian students. Helen has created long-lasting professional relationships that will continue to strengthen the greater U.S.-Australia partnership for years to come.

Marta Garcia de Bello

Gill Jacot-Guillarmod Award Honorable Mention, 2019 

Marta’s leadership as a Cultural Affairs Specialist has been crucial to maintaining diplomatic relationships in Venezuela even after the official American presence there ended. Due to Marta’s resilience in the face of these difficult circumstances, outreach activities by EducationUSA and American Spaces continue guiding current and future leaders of Venezuela to become agents of positive change.

Yolanda Robinson

Ilchman-Richardson Award, 2019 

In over ten years of service as ECA’s Deputy Director and Director of Budget and Finance, Yolanda has ensured that the Department of State accomplishes its cultural diplomacy  mission in the most cost-effective manner. With her all-encompassing knowledge of the Bureau’s operations, Yolanda informs important financial decisions that ensure the long-term success of ECA’s cultural and educational programs. Beyond her immense technical knowledge, she has the ability to translate policy and finances into genuine people-to-people connections. Serving as a leader and mentor to her colleagues, is what truly sets Yolanda apart and makes her indispensable to the Bureau and its mission.

Nicole Bayer

Lois Roth Award, 2019 

As Public Affairs Officer at the U.S. Embassy in Antananarivo, Madagascar, Nicole has shown great ingenuity in cultural diplomacy programming that creates lasting mutual respect and understanding between the people of the U.S. and Madagascar. Her innovative programming included a modernized English language learning symposium, a musical education workshop series that brought together local and American artists and a U.S. film festival in which films were dubbed or subtitled in Malagasy. Nicole’s deep understanding of Malagasy culture and current cultural trends and her dedication to creating impactful programming reached previously untapped audiences and made the United States the leading voice in cultural diplomacy across Madagascar.

Jeffrey Ladenson

Jeffrey (blue suit) explains the importance of several artifacts to honor the victims of the August 8, 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania.

Lois Roth Award Honorable Mention, 2019 

Jeffrey’s work as Cultural Affairs Officer transformed U.S. public diplomacy efforts in Tanzania and created a lasting positive impact. By cultivating a strong network of contacts, Jeff partnered with local organizations to host meaningful programming, such as the first-ever Tanzanian girls entrepreneurship summit for young female innovators. Jeffrey’s work demonstrates a deep compassion for and knowledge of Tanzanian culture and history through which he has created programming that is relevant to the unique interests of the Tanzanian people and advances U.S. cultural diplomacy in Tanzania.

Susan Bernofsky

MLA Roth Award, 2019 

The 2019 award went to Susan Bernofsky for her translation from the German of Go, Went, Gone, by Jenny Erpenbeck. Erpenbeck is the award-winning author of seven novels, five of which Bernofsky has translated into English. Erpenbeck’s moving 2015 novel Go, Went, Gone recounts the story of a former (East German) academic who befriends and becomes involved in the precarious lives of a group of African refugees in Berlin. Bernofsky, one of today’s best-known translators of German-language literature, directs the Program in Literary Translation in the MFA Writing Program at Columbia University’s School of the Arts.

Alistair Ian Blyth

MLA Roth Award, Honorable Mention, 2019 

Alistair Ian Blyth was awarded an Honorable Mention for his translation from the Romanian of The Book of Whispers, by Varujan Vosganian. A Romanian politician, economist and author of novels, essays and poems, Vosganian is of Armenian descent. In this moving novel, he unfolds the experience and memory of the horrific Armenian genocide that took place a century ago in the Ottoman Empire. Originally written in 2009/12 and translated into over 20 languages, Blyth’s translation makes the book  available to English-language readers for the first time.

Cameron Turley

Danish Project Support, 2019

This year’s award went to Cameron Turley, of City University of New York. Cameron is studying Inuit settlements and their relationship to ethnogenesis in Greenland. His award will help to provide access to archival materials and local scholars, allowing him to further enrich his studies. Upon completion of his project, Cameron plans to pursue an archeological career in Greenland.